Thanksgiving is a time of great warmth, gratitude and the comfort of being surrounded by family and friends — unless you’re a turkey.

That’s why beloved talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres is stepping up to serve as the 2010 spokesperson for Farm Sanctuary's Adopt-A-Turkey Project, an annual program that seeks to end the misery of commercially-raised turkeys by offering a compassionate alternative for Thanksgiving.

“Save a life this Thanksgiving, and join me in starting a new tradition by adopting a turkey instead of eating one through Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-A-Turkey Project,” said Ellen.

Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, has organized the annual Adopt-A-Turkey Project since 1986. This Thanksgiving, with Ellen’s help, thousands of families will save turkeys, instead of eating them, by adopting a feathered friend who lives at Farm Sanctuary’s New York or California Shelter. For a one-time donation gift of just $30, adopters will receive a special Adopt-A-Turkey certificate, featuring a color photo of and fun details about their new friend, and the great feeling of knowing they are sponsoring the care of a turkey who has been rescued from cruelty. These donations help Farm Sanctuary educate and advocate for turkeys, and other farm animals, everywhere. This year’s “adoptable” turkeys include: Velma, Daphne, Kima, Harley, Reese and Jordan.

Through the Adopt-A-Turkey Project, Farm Sanctuary has rescued more than 1,000 turkeys, placed hundreds into loving homes through their annual Turkey Express adoption event, educated millions of people about the plight of these friendly, intelligent birds on factory farms and provided resources and recipes for a plant-based holiday. The organization also hosts two Celebrations FOR the Turkeys at their New York and California shelters where the birds are the guests of honor and are treated to a buffet of squash, cranberries and pumpkin pie. Compassionate guests come from all over the country to attend these popular sanctuary events.

“We are thrilled to have Ellen’s support as this year’s Adopt-A-Turkey spokesperson,” says Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary. “Through her trademark blend of humor and warmth, she is reaching millions of people with a critical message of compassion for all animals that is as contagious as her laughter and her dancing. Ellen’s positive energy and zest for life make her the perfect ambassador for these charismatic birds, who also possess a strong desire to enjoy life. The important thing to realize about the Adopt-A-Turkey Project is that it’s not about giving anything up — it’s about embracing your deepest values and celebrating in a way that is consistent with those values. No one likes cruelty to animals, and when people learn about what happens to turkeys on factory farms, the decision to skip the turkey in favor of compassionate plant-based options, is an easy one to make.”

Between 250 to 300 million turkeys are raised for slaughter every year in the U.S. — more than 46 million alone for Thanksgiving. Birds are typically packed by the thousands into dark, filthy factory farm warehouses, where they are allotted approximately three square feet of space in which to live. Debeaked and detoed without any pain relief, these birds are bred to reach a crippling weight at an unnaturally fast rate. When turkeys reach only 14 to 18 weeks of age they are transported to slaughter, often under harrowing conditions. Because turkeys and other birds are specifically excluded from the Humane Slaughter Act, which requires that animals be stunned prior to slaughter, their deaths are a brutal end to a miserable existence.

To join Ellen DeGeneres in starting a new tradition by adopting a turkey instead of eating one, visit adoptaturkey.org or call the Turkey Adoption Hotline at 1-888-SPONSOR.

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